Utrecht tram shooting: Man suspected of killing 3 people arrested after eight-hour manhunt

The authorities identified the attacker as 37-year-old Turkish man Gokmen Tanis and the threat level has been reduced from 5, the highest, to 4

The Netherlands Police have arrested the man suspected of an open fire on a tram in the city of Utrecht, which killed three people and injured nine others on Monday. 37-year-old Gokmen Tanis, who has had previous run-ins with law enforcement, was arrested Monday night. "We have just been informed that the suspect has been arrested," police chief Rob van Bree told reporters.  

A photograph of him was posted on social media by police, who warned people against approaching him, and counter-terrorism officers were pictured surrounding a building near the 24 Oktoberplein junction, where the tram attack took place. The Netherlands' national coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, Tweeted, "Crisis team is activated."

Tanis' relatives in Turkey told Anadolu news agency that he had opened fire on a relative 'for family reasons' and later shot at others trying to intervene.

The tram attack took place at about 10:45 a.m. local time and one witness told local media "a man started shooting wildly" while another witness told Dutch public broadcaster NOS that he had helped an injured woman after the tram came to a stop.

"I looked behind me and saw someone lying there behind the tram," he said. "People got out of their cars... and they started to lift her up. I helped to pull her out and then I saw a gunman run towards us, with his gun raised," he added. "I heard people yell 'Shooter! Shooter!' and I started to run."

In a press conference, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the country had been "jolted by an attack", which he described as "deeply disturbing."

"We cannot exclude a terrorist motive," Dutch anti-terrorism co-ordinator Aalbersberg said in the conference earlier on Monday. At a news conference, Rutger Jeuken from the public prosecution service said authorities are considering that the attack had terrorist motives. "The first indication of what has happened and the statements that have been made and the traces that have been found, we certainly consider a terrorist motive -- however we don't exclude other motives," Jeuken said.

BBC reported a source said Tanis had previously fought in Russia's republic of Chechnya and was earlier arrested because of his connections with [IS] but was released later. Jihadist groups, including those aligned with the Islamic State (IS) group, have long operated in the region.